Exploring the combined role of eustasy and oceanic island thermal subsidence in shaping biodiversity on the Galápagos

Ali, Jason R. and Aitchison, Jonathan C. (2014) Exploring the combined role of eustasy and oceanic island thermal subsidence in shaping biodiversity on the Galápagos. Journal of Biogeography, 41 7: 1227-1241. doi:10.1111/jbi.12313

Author Ali, Jason R.
Aitchison, Jonathan C.
Title Exploring the combined role of eustasy and oceanic island thermal subsidence in shaping biodiversity on the Galápagos
Journal name Journal of Biogeography   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2699
Publication date 2014-07
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/jbi.12313
Open Access Status
Volume 41
Issue 7
Start page 1227
End page 1241
Total pages 15
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Aim: We constructed a series of high-resolution palaeogeographical models for the Galápagos archipelago for the last 700 kyr, accommodating thermal subsidence of the islands, eustatic sea-level change, and associated sea-floor loading. We assessed the possible impacts of these changes for the terrestrial fauna. Location: The Galápagos Islands. Methods: Palaeogeographical modelling and evaluation of biogeographical distributions. Results: Since 700 ka, sea levels broadly similar to those today isolated the various Galápagos islands for intervals of c. 90 kyr. Intervening 5-10 kyr periods of extreme lowstands in sea level (-140 to -210 m) dramatically changed the central and western archipelago, with several large islands, plus their satellites, coalescing. During the several connection episodes the land-locked vertebrates had significant or complete access to all of the newly exposed terrain. Analysis of the biological data suggests that these physical processes left detectable imprints on the biogeography of groups including racer snakes, lava lizards, land iguanas and leaf-toed geckos. Main conclusions: In the recent geological past, a sizeable region within the Galápagos chain must have experienced rapid, significant changes in its geography as a result of major shifts in local relative sea level periodically connecting and then isolating islands. This might explain striking patterns in the distribution and composition of the archipelago's land fauna. These insights provide a platform for future studies predicting the ages of subpopulation separations, which should correspond to the sea-level rises that followed each of the lows. The oscillating geography mechanism described herein may provide a new lens to view biological evolution on a number of other island chains, including the Maldives, the Canaries and Cape Verde.
Keyword Biodiversity
Island evolution
Oceanic island subsidence
Palaeogeographical reconstruction
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 25 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 27 Feb 2015, 10:35:32 EST by Helen Smith on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management